Truck drivers threaten strike chaos at the border over double insurance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2006, 12:00am

Cross-border drivers have threatened to paralyse cargo traffic if mainland authorities do not abandon a new rule requiring them to take out a second third-party insurance policy.

The new rule, set out by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission in late March, says all vehicles operating on the mainland - including 60,000 private vehicles, coaches, shuttle buses and trucks that regularly cross the border - must buy a national third-party insurance policy on the mainland, from last Saturday.

But drivers of Hong Kong vehicles that regularly cross the border were already required to have insurance before they could enter the mainland.

Truck drivers' union representative Chiu Chi-keung said the new rule meant drivers had to pay an extra $8,500 in premiums a year.

'Our current insurance policy provides a maximum of $1 million in coverage, but theirs only provides $60,000 and it costs more. Why do we need theirs?'

He said the 18,000 truck drivers in Hong Kong were now paying about $7,000 in premiums a year for third-party insurance.

Thirty-five truck drivers yesterday staged a protest outside the Yuen Long office of the China Inspection Co, the sole representative of the General Administration of Quality Supervision in Hong Kong responsible for the insurance issue.

Mr Chiu said the manager of the company, who was not available for comment yesterday, agreed to lower the premium to just $2,000 a year after negotiations, but they were still dissatisfied.

'This is double payment. We won't pay for something we already have.' He said drivers might resort to 'vigorous action', including a strike that could paralyse traffic on both sides of the border. Legislator Wong Kwok-hing and Federation of Trade Unions chairman Wong Kwok-kin are trying to help settle the dispute.